Splitsider

Friday, August 23rd, 2013
SNL

Here Are Your New 'SNL' Featured Players

Deadline is reporting that SNL has four top candidates to add to the cast as featured players for the fall. While NBC has yet to announce the news, the report says that Beck Bennett, John Milhiser, Kyle Mooney, and Noël Wells are "heavily rumored to land the coveted SNL spots." All four are performers from Los Angeles's Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre and each one has a series of popular web videos to his or her name. Milhiser is a member of the video sketch group Serious Lunch, Wells is known for her solo videos, and Mooney and Bennett both come from the sketch group Good Neighbor, which also includes standup Nick Rutherford and filmmaker Dave McCary. SNL hiring Mooney and Bennett from the same sketch group harkens back to the show adding three from the group The Lonely Island in 2005: cast member Andy Samberg and writer/directors Jorma Taccone and Akiva Schaffer.

UPDATE: Michael Patrick O'Brien, who's been a writer on the show since 2009, is also joining the cast as a featured player. This brings the number of new cast members up to five, the most added in one season since 1995, when Jim Breuer, Will Ferrell, Darrell Hammond, David Koechner, Cheri Oteri, and Nancy Walls were all hired.

Mooney and Bennett recently shot a Comedy Central pilot with Good Neighbor called The Good Neighbor Show, about a local late night show that's falling apart at the seams. Will Ferrell and Adam McKay produced the pilot via their company Gary Sanchez. Deadline writes that the Comedy Central deal complicates the pair's SNL hiring but that "there is an effort to work things out."

There's no word on whether more performers than these four will be joining the cast before SNL's 39th season starts up next month, but this is definitely the biggest transitional year for the sketch show in over a decade, with these four performers entering and Fred Armisen, Bill Hader, and Jason Sudeikis having departed at the end of last season. Seth Meyers is also expected to leave late in the fall to prep for his takeover as host of Late Night in February.

UPDATE: SNL has hired a third member of Good Neighbor, Dave McCary, as a director.

Check out some videos and more info about the new featured players below:

Beck Bennett

A graduate of USC, Beck Bennett met Kyle Mooney and Nick Rutherford there, which led to them forming Good Neighbor. The group has performed sketch shows at UCB and around Los Angeles, toured the country, and created dozens of viral videos. He also has his own solo YouTube channel and has appeared in some popular commercials.


An episode of Bennett's web series, Fresh Perspectives, in which he plays a deadpan newsman interviewing children about current events.


Bennett plays an eerily similar role to Fresh Perspectives in the AT&T "It's Not Complicated" ads, which were directed by SNL's Jorma Taccone. The AT&T folks claim they're not familiar with his web series.


An episode from Bennett and Rutherford's series, Theater of Life, in which they set up lawn chairs on the beach and make fun of passersby.


The Good Neighbor sketch, "Toast."

John Milhiser

Selected as part of the Just for Laughs comedy festival's New Faces showcase last month, John Milhiser was a UCB New York performer before relocating to the west coast, where he's been performing on the Maude team Tut at UCB LA. He's a member of the NYC-based sketch group Serious Lunch, and runs the "baguetting" photo blog Baguette-Me-Nots with fellow Serious Lunch member Tim Bierbaum.


Milhiser in the Serious Lunch sketch "Facialique."


Milhiser in the Serious Lunch video "Bad Boy."


"Clap It Up," the Step Up parody Milhiser wrote, directed, and starred in for Lorne Michaels's company's YouTube channel, Above Average.

Kyle Mooney

Like Beck Bennett, Kyle Mooney is a USC grad and a member of Good Neighbor, who counts Adam McKay, Louis C.K., and Steven Spielberg as fans. Mooney was a writer on the first season of Comedy Central's Nathan for You, guest starred on Parks and Rec, and had a recurring role on the short-lived Sports Show with Norm Macdonald as Macdonald's nephew Kyle.


Mooney as his emotional Southern California surfer character Todd.


Mooney as hacky standup character Bruce Chandling.


Mooney doing an awkward man-on-the-street segment at a MLB game.

Noël Wells

Known for her character videos that have racked up millions of hits on YouTube, Noël Wells is a performer on the UCB LA Maude team New Money and has appeared in numerous videos for CollegeHumor. She does great impressions of Zooey Deschanel, Michelle Bachmann, Justin Bieber, and Kristen Stewart.


Wells's sketch reel.


Wells as Zooey Deschanel hosting a talk show.


Wells as Stephen King's Carrie in the CollegeHumor video "Housemates of Horror."

Michael Patrick O'Brien

A writer on SNL since 2009, O'Brien is being promoted to featured player this season. He's best known for his excellent web series 7 Minutes in Heaven, in which he interviews (and inevitably tries to kiss) a celebrity in a closet.


7 Minutes in Heaven — Ty Burrell


7 Minutes in Heaven — Amy Poehler


O'Brien as the doorman in Justin Timberlake's "Five-Timer's Club" monologue on SNL, a role played by Conan O'Brien in the original '80s sketch

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  • colinpperkins

    I've never been so happy about an SNL casting announcement. Kyle Mooney and Beck Bennett are the best.

    http://splitsider.com/2010/10/sketch-artists-good-neighbor/

    • Cindy

      But what about Nick?

  • ManfredYon

    Now THIS is electron coverage I can get excited about
    (its election time here in Australia, by the by)

    • http://billyworm.blogspot.com/ The Cricket Nerd

      Electron coverage would make a great sketch.

  • Sarah F.

    Yeah John!! We love you buddy, keep up the amazing work!

  • Gregory Ronquillo

    Finally! Some white people on the show!

    • Latino

      And yet people will still continue to blame Lorne and SNL instead of the infallible lily-white holy institutions of comedy like UCB/iO/Groundlings/Second City who provide the talent. I'm not placing all the blame on those places; clearly, minorities play a big part in not being interested in sketch/improv. But why is that? White people are a minority in Los Angeles. If you go to a comedy room (OK, a NON-alt room), stand-ups will be evenly mixed and audience members mostly minorities. So why is line of 20-somethings on Franklin Ave so blindingly white every single night?

      It's a problem that's multi-faceted and a lot more complicated than just blaming SNL or the talent-cultivators for only hiring white people. The problem IS deep-rooted though: I love Brett Gelman. But in that NY Magazine oral history of the UCBT, performers discuss the time Gelman did a tap dance routine in blackface and received a standing ovation. How many people of color were in that audience? And if there were any, what do you think their reaction was? Do you think ironic racism in a room full of white liberals made them come back?

      Again, not blaming UCB entirely. In fact, their bi-annual diversity scholar application goes up Sept. 1. So if you're black, Latino, 40, transgendered, etc. don't whine. Go apply! Lorne is getting up there in years and SNL is a business. They hire people who will help their advertisers marker their products. And in 20 years, those marketers are going to be targeting a very different America.

      • Akilah

        Hey! I am black and I have received multiple scholarships from UCB NY and maybe one day I'll be on the show. I don't think the problem is a lack of black talent, I just think $400 a class is not something that urban minorities in general have historically been able to afford. There are great black and latina players here at UCB, and hopefully one day SNL will reflect that.

        • Mike S

          It's exactly this. Just like when we talk about internships in journalism, starting out in comedy without any safety net is really risky, so it attracts more middle and upper class people (who are disproportionately white). Not a real mystery. I'm not sure how to fix it, but that's the crux of the problem

          Best of luck to you Akilah, maybe I'll be watching you on SNL some day soon!

        • kanish

          tonights line jumper on the million second quiz right here. 9/13/2013. congrats akilah

      • Sha Qui Qui LaDynasty Jones

        The problem IS deep-rooted …………So White people like something or excel at something that non Whites don't especially value or excel at. Why is that a problem deep rooted or not?

        • Latino

          Because "excelling at sketch comedy" isn't a genetically-obtained skill set, you lunatic.

          • Sha Qui Qui LaDynasty Jones

            who said it was? I think you got some major inferiority complex issues to deal with. Illegal aliens suck at sketch comedy. Everyone knows that and it's OK. Now go back to cleaning the toilets or no beans for you!

      • kangoljas1

        According to the 2010 Census, the racial makeup of Los Angeles included: 1,888,158 Whites (49.8%), 365,118 African Americans (9.6%), 28,215 Native Americans (0.7%), 426,959 Asians (11.3%), 5,577 Pacific Islanders (0.1%), 902,959 from other races (23.8%), and 175,635 (4.6%) from two or more races.[113] Hispanics or Latinos of any race were 1,838,822 persons (48.5%).

    • Zachary Fedell

      Eddie Murphy, Ellen Cleghorne, Tracy Morgan, Chris Rock, Tim Meadows, Kenan Thompson, Jay Phaorah…you are right, it's all white people over there at SNL

      • humblecore

        Do the math on the white people they've had on the show in ~40 years and then get back to us.

        • Zachary Fedell

          it's not a competition man

        • Colin Fisher

          I did the math once, actually, for the show over the years. It's quite well-proportioned to the actual African American population of America. Asian Americans should be super pissed though.

      • Vodeeodoe

        It's generally been one black cast member and the rest of the cast is all white. I think Fred Armisen is the only (half) Latino person they've had on the show.

        • Jeremy Caesar

          Don't forget Horatio Sanz.

          • Zachary Fedell

            and current cast member Cecily Strong

        • http://billyworm.blogspot.com/ The Cricket Nerd

          Currently we have Kenan, Jay and Nasim.

        • Vodeeodoe

          My bad. Derp!

    • Matt

      Self loathing white people are just the best!

      • Matt

        and 56 up votes? I guess this really is the end of whitey. Oh well, it's been a good ride.

      • westside25

        Uh, HUGE difference between self-loathing and observation. Nothing in the original post that says self-loathing. Ironic that you are quick to use sarcasm but can't see it under your nose.

    • General Paulus

      Dance herp-a-derpster, dance!!!

    • Will

      Why would black people want to be on something as unfunny and past-its-prime as SNL?

  • http://twitter.com/milwaukeedude20 MilwaukeeDude20

    Sad for Ross Bryant. He would've been great. Guess there's still a chance though.

    • Steph DeWaegeneer

      Agreed! Ross Bryant is uber-talented…I could've sworn one of then new featured players was an as of yet "unamed female improvisers from Chicago".

      • kilpatrick24ward

        What does her name rhyme with?

  • http://www.wudwerk.com/ mayanrelic

    Kyle and Beck! WHOOP WHOOP

  • launderground

    ucbtla crushing it.

  • BillBrasky

    Kind of weird that SNL would hire Noel Wells now when they basically ripped off her "Zooey Deschanel Show" idea with Abby Elliott. In fact Wells in general seems like a more talented version of Elliott, judging from her videos. Why wasn't she hired to begin with four years ago?

    • Fadburgerq

      That's because nepotism.

      • Sam

        Abby Elliott was a great cast member, better even that some of the past season's featured players. Obviously her father's success opened doors for her, but you can't say that Abby didn't deserve to be on the cast.

  • http://blakeayers.com/ Blake Ayers

    This is one of my favorites – http://youtu.be/9m33haKK8iI

  • FreeSpeechOrDieHarder

    The whole article makes me sad that that's near the end of Hader's run; they'll get him to do Stefan once or twice, but there were so many characters so superior to what Ferrell ever did (why he"s in control of a third of the cream of the comedy world is befuddling).

  • thearchivest

    beck yes the rest no

  • jtw8802

    Is it THAT hard to find a funny black female? Geez

    • Mick C

      Sasheer Zamata, funniest woman– not just black woman, out there today.

    • Matt

      Why yes it is.

    • http://billyworm.blogspot.com/ The Cricket Nerd

      Not everyone's looking to be on SNL either. It's a tough ride.

  • KWhoa

    What will it take for SNL to cast a woman of color? Seriously, WTF!?!

    • Jim Dawkins

      Oh My God when are they going to have an asian on the show..Oh My God.

  • pump

    SRSLY! WHEN IS A MALAYSIAN SUBSTITUTE TEACHER GOING TO GET CHANCE ON SHOW?!

  • Joe Bousetta

    Good to know SNL will keep sucking.

    • lanmanna

      Good to know you'll keep sucking.

  • Joe Bousetta

    Oh and if black people or minorities don't do sketch comedy, how do you explain Chappelle's Show and In Living Color, both are way better than modern day SNL.

    • ianrey

      Not that I disagree with your larger point, but I think you're viewing In Living Color with a nostalgic glow; like SNL, it was a few incredibly funny sketches, a few duds, and mostly bland boring stuff with a few good lines. Key & Peele is maybe a better example, but, like Chappelle, it's a show driven by its stars, not a troupe that changes cast all the time.

  • Raoul Duke

    Glad they went back in time and grabbed Larry Davids 1981 self, not sure why they think they need to call him Kyle Mooney but I'm sure he will be great for SNL.

  • KYLE RULES

    Omg if Kyle landed SNL I would watch every episode he's the funniest online comedian

  • Liberal 2 the XXXtreme

    Down with whitey. Every white person alive has privilege and is guilty of enslaving black people. EVERY SINGLE ONE, DON'T YOU EVER FORGET IT. BLACKS ARE INFALLIBLE AND ARE THE GREATEST RACE ALIVE!!!!!!!!!!!!! THEY INVENTED EVERYTHING FROM COMEDY TO THE UNIVERSE!!!!

  • Vodeeodoe

    This year SNL also lost Adam Sandberg and Fred Armisen. I'm hoping they pick more than just 4 people to fill the void. Gotta be honest, I couldn't watch through any of Noel's videos. Subjectively speaking, she is stiff and not funny. I think Abby Elliot did a more accurate voice impression of Zoey.

    • Dudemanbro

      adam sandberg? This year? Vodeeodoedeeeodooeeee?

  • x d

    In Living Color and MadTV had the best in diverse comics…where are the talented comics who would've been picked up by those now defunct shows? SNL missed out on extremely talented people like Chappelle and Cho who could've brought in a brand new, needed era and breed of SNL talent….it is SNL's fault….they have a panel who picks the new roster, so…..on another note, I personally believe that Bill Hader has been the only consistent pro that SNL had in a while, and now he's out….SNL needs to up the ante….

  • Stuie299

    If only Jenny Slate didn't have that incident. She would be killing it on SNL right now.